SD-WANs Role in Applications

I’ve done a pretty deep dive on the ins and outs of SD-WAN over the past few posts. I want to change things up a bit and look at the role that SD-WAN has in your applications.

In the advent of the cloud era we have seen a staggering number of traditional client-server applications become cloud-based. The traditional paradigm of needing web, application, and database servers to run line of business applications has been turned upside down. We are now seeing the widespread adoption of SaaS throughout all industries. Take Intuit’s Quickbooks and Microsoft Office as prime examples of this shift.

Network infrastructure is now evolving to align with the “new way” of business. Traditional QoS will not suffice to guarantee operation of critical business services across the LAN and Internet. Network engineers are used to having full control of their traffic within their networks or with legacy technologies such as private lines and MPLS. However, in the world of SaaS, this control is lost. Once you egress the local network and ingress the public internet all QoS markings are practically stripped and treated as if they were marked DSCP 0 or Best Effort.

This leaves many businesses without any way to guarantee bandwidth availability, low latency, or guard against packet loss. Thankfully SD-WAN has evolved to address these, as well as many other issues facing businesses of all sizes. Using commodity internet circuits which tend to have higher amounts bandwidth capacity, SD-WAN is an intelligent technology that constantly monitors all aspects of link and application health to deliver a good experience even in the face of the performance challenges created by using the public Internet.

Traffic destined for critical business functions such as Salesforce, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Office 365 can be policy routed via the link with the best available characteristics for that particular application. In addition, the policy driven nature of SD-WAN allows for the business to prioritize WAN-bound traffic for business-critical services over email, internet streaming, or web browsing. This insures that not only will  these services be highly available (taking any available WAN path), but that these applications will be dynamically routed via the best performing path to ensure the highest level of end user experience.

SD-WAN also ensures business continuity by dynamically routing traffic between internet egress points in the event of circuit degradation or outage. Once the affected link has been repaired or circuit degradation ceases, the link again becomes a candidate for handling traffic.  Dynamic traffic routing ensures that only the best performing paths are used while also providing the additional benefit of a highly-available, resilient WAN.

Dynamic monitoring of both application, the underlying WAN links, and the SD-WAN fabric itself allows for extensive monitoring and metric collection, yielding actionable insights that help businesses better understand what’s happening in their environment and quickly isolate the root cause of any availability or performance issues.  This also allows for easier capacity planning and forecasting based upon business goals. It also allows for reporting of compliance in achieving business goals for application availability, uptime, and performance that are often difficult to gather than in traditional Layer 2 / Layer 3 networks without the intelligent overlay capabilities inherent in the SD-WAN fabric.

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